Reasonably priced world travel is easy if you know how to do a little research, have a bit of patience and are flexible. I have my ‘must-do eventually’ list of fantasy trips. The first was added when I was maybe 6 or 7 after seeing pictures of the Taj Mahal and knowing the love story that built it. The big giant heads of Easter Island call to me. I want to march off to Xian, China and rub shoulders with the terra cotta soldiers after a waltz on the Great Wall. It all makes me swoon. Gazing at grazing wild animals in Africa is another morsel on the list.
I haven’t made it to these spots yet but I have ticked off some biggies already. The usual suspects. Some you know well and others are a bit more obscure. Paris, London, Rome, the Pyramids, Petra, Prague. I’ve been a lot of places so it’s not like I’m idly sitting around just dreaming. Just working my way down the list.
You need the right tools to accomplish this. I have never bought anything on Expedia or Travelocity. I like a bit more control than Priceline provides. I use Hotels.com as a starting point and sometimes book through them if I can’t get the same deal from the hotel itself. These sites are just fine for travel within the US but I usually like to buy without the middleman if I can. When it comes to international travel where language differences could present problems, I try to go directly to the source.
How do you find the places in the first place? My go-to, 1st stop site is kayak.com for airfares. The price is the price. No added fees and they don’t sell the tickets. They are a clearinghouse of information. If you find a flight, you click on the link where the fare is available and buy it that way.
But before you click, wait. You are not ready to buy yet. Let’s say you find a great fare on United Airlines through Expedia. Go to the airline’s site ual.com and check to see if it has the fare for the same flights at a lower price. United code-shares with US Airways so check there too. Of course you need to do this quickly because fares change in the blink of an eye. Pick the best price and book.
If you don’t like what you are finding on Kayak try skyscanner.com. This site has a lot of the small European carriers including Blue1 which is a subsidiary of SAS, Norwegian and Air Berlin. This is where I hit the jackpot planning our week in Scandinavia.
While we love train travel in Europe, with a week on the ground we don’t have time for long leisurely countryside vistas. That will have to wait until next time. For these travel junkies we need fast transportation. And at the same price as a Eurail Pass, I used Skyscanner to get us to all of the same places in a fraction of the time. Four flights for $250 total each. Such a deal!
It took days of playing with schedules and city combinations. My husband has recently joined the planning fray after successfully convincing me that if we were in Buenos Aires, we HAD to go to the southern tip of South America. Good move even though it was a budget buster. The money is gone but the memories are great. It turned out to be the highlight of that trip.
Originally I started with a flight to Oslo and a train trip to Göteborg and Copenhagen. That has morphed into an Oslo-Stockholm-Helsinki-Copenhagen extravaganza with a US/Canada road trip tacked on for at the end for good measure. That’s my husband’s doing. I think I have created a monster. That excites me and makes me love him even more (if that’s possible!) Maybe after this crazy trip we’ll go check out the other love story told at the Taj.